The Beginners Guide to Using WordPress as a CMS – Part I

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platform that powers millions of blogs and websites. However, it is no longer limited to being a basic blogging tool anymore. Instead, WP has grown to be a full fledged Content Management System (CMS) that can be used to power almost any type of website. In this series of articles, we shall be embarking on a journey to assess the prowess of WordPress as a stand alone CMS.

However, unlike the rest, this series is not just a ‘tutorial’ – at least in the rigid sense of the term. While I shall be linking to as well as talking about several tweaks with WP, this series shall also be geared towards the pros and cons of WordPress as a stand alone CMS (nothing in this world is perfect, remember that?).

For a start, in this part, let us explore the minor tweaks and tunings that can be implemented to make WP more geared towards acting like a CMS, rather than just a blogging tool.

Static Home Pages

By default, WP shows your blog entries as the blog’s home page. However, if you are using it as a CMS, you might need to employ a static ‘home page’ for your website. In that case, head to Settings –> Reading and under ‘Front Page Display’, choose a static page. This page shall act as your website’s main page.

To know more about static Home Pages, see Creating a Static Front Page.

Custom Page Templates

To have a unique look for each of your website’s pages, you will need to create Custom Page Templates. WordPress Codex has an awesome article on Custom Pages, which basically explains everything (well, almost). Almost every major theme nowadays comes with some pre-defined Page Templates. For example, the Twenty 11 WP theme has two page templates – Showcase and Sidebar. We shall be revisiting Custom Page Templates in the next part of the series.

Edit the Permalinks

For a blog, if entries or posts are organized on the basis of years and months, it lend a better look. However, there seems to be no need for chronology with a general website. Thus, you can edit the Permalink structure by navigating to Settings –> Permalinks and then specifying a custom options, such as /%postname%/ which will show the name of the post or page soon after the site’s name, for instance,

Using Widgets Constructively

Ideally, you should employ a theme that has support for multiple sidebars (as many as you need, not as many as possible). You can use your sidebars’ widgets to show virtually anything that you feel like. For example, you can use the Arbitrary Text Widget to show your clients’ testomonials on the About or Profile page.

Apart from that, you should also disable comments on Pages of your website. Comments and trackbacks are an integral part of a blog, but in case of a website, they can be omitted. Head to Settings –> Discussion to do this :

On that note, we have covered all the preparatory steps for turning WordPress into a fully functional Content Management System. In the next part, we shall delve deeper into PHP coding to get the optimum out of WordPress as a CMS. Stay tuned!

Sufyan bin Uzayr

Sufyan bin Uzayr

Writer; web dev; published author; coffee lover. Learn more here.

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